French President Emmanuel Macron is reaping criticism and ridicule for his repeated efforts to continue the dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched the invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Now a nine-minute recording of their telephone conversation from February 20 has been released to the public, just a few days before the start of the war. Macron seems to be trying to present the phone as a demonstration of his initiative and thus improve his reputation, but Putin openly lies to Macron and “leads him by the nose”.
The Russian president already had a full-blown plan for the war, but the head of France reassured the phone that the Russian military exercise near the Ukrainian border was ending and promised to negotiate a meeting with US President Joe Biden.
The phone call will be published together with other material as part of the document President, Europe and war, which is broadcast on June 30 by French television France 2. It is clear that Macron is trying to restore a reputation in France that, despite defending his presidency, declined after his centrist coalition lost a majority in the parliamentary elections. The wording of the phone call was published in advance by some media.
Apart from Putin’s hearing, Macron’s advisers also took part in the interview. They immediately respond to some of Putin’s remarks on the record and warn Macron that “this doesn’t fit.” In this way, for example, they reacted to Putin’s subsequent words.
“You and Chancellor Scholz told me that Zelensky was ready to take a step, that he had prepared a bill on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. […] in fact, our dear colleague, Mr Zelensky, is doing nothing. He’s lying to you […] I do not know if you heard his statement yesterday, where he said that Ukraine must have access to nuclear weapons, “said Putin. “No, that’s nonsense,” says adviser Emmanuel Bonne.
Putin tried to put words in his mouth even for Macron himself. “I also heard a statement at a press conference in Kiev on February 8. You said that the Minsk agreements must be revised, I quote: ‘so that they can be implemented’, “he told him.
“Vladimir, one thing in particular, I never said that the Minsk agreements should be revised. I never said that in Berlin, in Kiev, or in Paris. I said that they should be applied, that things should be respected and that I do not have the same interpretation of the last days as you, “he corrected him.
Macron was quite proactive in the conversation. “I don’t know where your negotiator learned the law,” he said to Putin, laughing with advisers, as they discussed the wording and meaning of the articles of the Minsk agreements governing relations between states to end the war in Donbas.
Macron: I need you to help me a little
Later, however, he admits pressure on Ukraine. “I need you to help me a little,” he tells Putin. “The situation on the contact line is very tense. I really called Zelensky yesterday to calm down. I will tell him again, calm everyone down, calm down on social networks, calm down the Ukrainian armed forces, “he said. “And I rely on you a lot. Do not succumb to any provocation in the following hours and days, “he also claimed later. “But what I see is that you should calm down your advanced forces,” he added.
How do military exercises work? Macron asked
Macron’s question about how military exercises are taking place near the borders of Ukraine, which in fact served only as a pretext for moving military equipment on the doorstep of a neighboring state, is now smiling. “The exercises are going according to plan […] “It will probably end tonight and we will certainly leave a military presence at the border until the situation in Donbas has calmed down,” Putin said.
Putin: Talking to US and European colleagues? It is always a great pleasure for me
At the end of the conversation, Macron proposes to hold a meeting between Putin and US President Joe Biden, which was to take place in Geneva, Switzerland. “It is always a great pleasure and honor to speak with your European colleagues and the United States. And I always like to talk to you, because there is trust between us, “Putin demonstrated Macron’s exemplary” lubrication of honey around his mouth. ” His words are particularly absurd in contrast to Putin’s pre-war speech, in which he called the whole West an “empire of lies.”
At the end of the phone call, Putin’s words indicate that he and Macron are calling from the gym where he wanted to go to play hockey, not from the office. So it seems that he was not preparing for the interview much and was not very important for him.
The two statesmen phoned just a day before Putin recognized the Ukrainian separatist forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic as independent states. Shortly afterwards, on February 24, Russian troops entered their territory and later launched an attack on Ukraine.